Phase 35 - God Would Understand

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED ETERNITY

Phase 35 - God Would Understand

June 17th, CE 77 - Earth Alliance Spengler-class aircraft carrier David Farragut, near Gigafloat, Indian Ocean

"Attention Gigafloat," boomed the voice of Vice Admiral Joseph Krane as the fleet steamed into position, "the Earth Alliance Navy demands your immediate surrender of all weapons, equipment, and personnel aboard your platform. If you do not comply, we will open fire."

As expected, the response came in the form of artillery fire from a small army of outdated mobile suits standing at the platform's edge and hovering in the air above it. The shells splashed down uselessly in front of the fleet. Admiral Krane smiled. Now he wouldn't have his nice glorious battle taken from him.

"Admiral, Gigafloat's mobile suits are moving towards us," one of the deckhands reported.

"Just as I thought," he chuckled, and took up the intercom again, keying in another frequency. "Captain Danilov. Begin your approach. All mobile suit units, take off; all warships, lay down cover fire and advance to Point Theta. Commence the attack!"

The humming Gundam Eclipse soared into battle, beam rifle in hand, and Emily scanned the enemies ahead. The Dark Windams of the Phantom Pain were in the lead, before a vast airborne fleet of white and blue Jet Striker Windams. Behind her lay the motley assortment of flight-capable mobile suits that Gigafloat claimed as its defense force. But they were veterans of the war's harshest battles. Perhaps they had a chance

A wave of beam fire cut off her thoughts, and she threw open the throttle and charged towards the first squadron of Dark Windams. They split up; she flung the Eclipse's left arm up and fired an anchor from its wrist. The claws dug into the first Windam's chest with a crunch, and Emily yanked it closer and speared it through the cockpit with a beam rifle blast. The remaining Windams closed in, their own rifles blazing; Emily whipped around with a crash and slammed the clawed left hand into the Windam's torso, then flung the ruined mobile suit away. A pair of Windams opened fire with their beam rifles, only for the Eclipse to dance around their blasts in a flurry of afterimages and tear them down with a pair of beam shots.

The familiar white bolt split the air before her and she threw the Eclipse downward to dodge a pulsing salvo of beams. And up above, wings of light blazing in the sun, the Crusader Gundam charged towards her with the Vanguard and Artemis on its flanks.

Emily frowned. Usually they were Shinn's problem to deal with but Shinn wasn't here. She stashed the beam rifle in favor of her beam sword and steeled herself. Months ago, she had been terrified of these pilots as they chased her across the icy waters of the North Atlantic and nearly killed her...but now it was different. And now it was time for a rematch.

Canard Pars grunted in pain as his Dreadnought H rattled under the incessant artillery blows of the Earth Alliance's warships. They had no less than thirty ships pounding Gigafloat, and his poor lightwave shield, and the blasts were keeping him from moving or firing back. And that was no way to fight.

The platform shook again, but not from the artillery; instead, Lowe Gear vaulted into the air with a shout and the Red Frame Kai's enormous Tactical Arms backpack sprung to life, sprouting wings and aligning itself as a flight system. The Red Frame drew both its long katanas and charged headlong into the oncoming stream of mobile suits.

"Lowe, what the hell are you doing?!" Canard barked. At his side, the Blue Frame Second Revise stepped forward with a beam rifle in hand. "Fool's gonna get killed doing that..."

"He's making a diversion," Gai muttered. "Canard, now is your chance."

The Dreadnought H launched itself skyward and folded its cannons out over its shoulders, and with a pulsing blast, it shot three Windams out of the sky before the rest could react and just in time for the Red Frame to descend upon them and hack the Striker packs off of two of them, sending them tumbling out of the air. Gai swept in next with the Tactical Arms in its sword configuration to tear the two falling Windams, then tossed the weapon back onto the Blue Frame's back and rocketed upward to dodge the remaining Windams' fire.

The Dreadnought H slammed back down and filled the sky with blasts from its beam submachinegun. The Windams took cover behind their shields as the Blue and Red Frames returned to Gigafloat with a crash, and then Canard threw the lightwave shield back up as the shells rained down again.

Suddenly, Lowe let out a yelp of surprise as another shell slammed down into the platform in front of the Red Frame's feet but not from a trajectory from the ships. Gai snapped his attention skyward at the three mobile suits approaching from above, two of them on sub-wings, all of them with the faces of Gundams.

"I see we have guests," he said. "Canard, Lowe, split up."

The three mobile suits down below broke their ranks and charged up into the sky as the Gale Strike, Hail Buster, and Regen Duel went on the attack.

"Dammit, George! Take this seriously!"

Elijah Kiel grimaced as his custom ZAKU shuddered under a painful missile hit to its shield. The Phase Shift armor could handle the blow, but whoever did that was going to pay

"Nothing is impossible for the First Coordinator!" the voice on the other hand answered, and George Glenn's yellow Civilian Astray sailed through the air with both its beam sabers in hand. It slammed headlong into an oncoming Windam and eagerly plunged both its sabers into the mobile suit's cockpit, then leapt back off and landed with a crash on a Guul subflight system that rose up from the platform to meet it. "I was an ace in the Reconstruction War, y'know!"

"I know!" Elijah snapped. "Now get down from there before you get yourself killed!"

The ZAKU flung itself upward and fired off a salvo from its beam rifle to scatter the Windams. George backed away and batted their blasts aside effortlessly with his beam sabers; one of the Windams charged in close, but the yellow Civilian Astray slashed its beam rifle in two with its left-hand saber and ran it through on the right-hand blade, then ducked away as it exploded.

"Now, who else wants a piece of the Great and Powerful George Glenn?!" the First Coordinator cackled.

Elijah took the opportunity to scan the battlefield and try not to feel too discouraged. It was all going pretty poorly so far, but then again, it was early yet and

"Never fear, Elijah!" George crowed. "We have the Angel of Death on our side!"

"Wha George! How did you get back here!"

The Civilian Astray plunged back into battle, and Elijah bit back a curse as he followed.

Rattling under the blows of the Alliance's mobile suits, the Proto Abyss lunged up over the fire and rained beam blasts down on the Windams, forcing them to break formation behind their shields. Alec sneered in contempt at the foes below.

"Just a bunch of cannon fodder...send me someone real to fight!"

The Proto Abyss flung itself to the side to avoid a volley of bazooka shells, then fired back with a cannon blast of its own. The Windams darted apart again, but one was too slow and went staggering out of the sky in flames. He lined up for another wave of beam fire again to force the Windams back further.

"Commander Ladd," Nathaniel's voice spoke up, and Alec spared a quick glance towards the auxiliary screen. "The Aristotle is moving out soon. We'll need the waters clear."

"It doesn't look like they brought any amphibious mobile suits of their own," Alec answered with a shrug. "They must be looking to settle this " He stopped short. "Wait...there! Does Gigafloat have any amphibious mecha?"

Already a handful of mobile suits were diving into the water. Nathaniel let out a grim sigh. "We'll launch what we can as well," he said, "but at some point we're going to have to surface to launch our aerial MS, and we'll be vulnerable."

Alec glanced back up towards the battle. The Windams charged towards him again; he warded them off again with another wave of beam fire. "Alright. I'll be here. Just don't take too long."

Trojan Noiret yelped in surprise as a beam blast slammed down into the Gigafloat surface and sent a column of flame lancing upwards. He jerked the DOM Trooper's controls back and ignited the beam sabers on its custom rifle. Up above, the Vent Savior Gundam promptly transformed to its mobile suit mode and landed next to the DOM, and both mobile suits turned upwards.

...and out of the sky came the crimson Nebula Blitz and the white Nix Providence, standing atop their black and red subflight lifters.

"I recognize those," Trojan muttered. "They're Emily's little buddies."

"Huh?" Lily blinked questioningly.

"Whenever we've had to fight the Charlemagne, those two always show up with those other three Gundams to fight her."

Lily turned her eyes back towards the two Gundams with a scowl. "Oh yeah, huh..."

Trojan curled his fists around the DOM's controls, tension bubbling through his veins. "Keep the two of them in my range so I can support you from the ground," he said, "and we'll "

"Watch out!"

Lily shoved the DOM aside with the Vent Savior's shield and rocketed up into the air as the Nebula Blitz lunged forward with an upward swipe from its beam saber. It charged towards the DOM and brought its saber around again; Trojan stabbed the custom beam rifle forward and used the two blades to catch the Nebula Blitz's saber, but the crimson mobile suit rammed the DOM with its shoulder and sent Trojan staggering back.

"Trojan!" Lily cried, and moved to intervene but the Nix Providence sent a wall of beam fire between the two mobile suits and forced the Vent Savior upwards. "Oh, you wanna play too, huh?!" She wheeled the Vent Savior around to face her foe.

The Nix Providence's eyes flashed to life and the beam saber on the tip of its shield on its left hand lit up as the white Gundam charged.

Earth Alliance battleship Charlemagne

The Charlemagne quaked under a near miss from an exploding missile, and Ivan Danilov cast his eyes towards the vast expanse of Gigafloat below. The Resistance's mobile suits had already taken off, and the Windams were already inexorably pushing them back and those left on the platform would be no match for the Charlemagne's firepower.

"Captain," the weapons officer said, "we're in firing range."

So that was it. Danilov spared Gigafloat one more look and hoped someone had had the foresight to evacuate the innocent.

"Very well. Open fire."

Again the ship rattled, as its railguns and beam cannons let loose a wall of firepower that slammed headlong into the platform. Mobile suits vanished in a vast plume of fire and the Charlemagne angled its bow up, the cannon in its center glowing with gathering energy.

Danilov glanced up at the sky, where he could see the flickering wings of light of the Gundam that his men called Midnight, doing battle with the wings of the Crusader. A battle of good and evil. He was starting to miss those.

ZAFT submarine supercarrier Aristotle

Nathaniel Hatias watched with crossed arms as his men eased the mighty Aristotle towards the water's surface. There was a huge, long, dark shape visible up ahead against the sun; it was that gigantic Earth Alliance battleship, the Charlemagne, the Phantom Pain flagship that was leading this assault. With all that firepower, it wouldn't take long to break through Gigafloat's defenses unless they did something about it. And as loaded as they were with evacuees, there was little they could do...

"Depth is one hundred meters," the diving officer announced. "Ninety, eighty, seventy, sixty..." Nathaniel tensed as his ship neared the surface. "Breaching the surface now "

"Missiles, fire!"

The Aristotle launched a cloud of missiles into the sky, and they immediately arced downward towards the surprised Charlemagne. The black warship's CIWS emplacements roared to life and spat a torrent of bullets into the oncoming missiles but enough made it through to slam into the Charlemagne's armor, throw off the ship's aim, and send its salvo of blazing beam shots sailing wide of Gigafloat.

"Mobile suits, launch!" barked Nathaniel. "Don't give them a chance to retaliate!"

The Aristotle's mobile suits roared out of the vertical catapults and stormed into battle, and the Charlemagne's own black Windams scrambled to put themselves between their mothership and the attackers. Nathaniel frowned at the sight they had reacted quicker than he'd expected.

"Helm, move us directly under their hull and keep us there," he said. "We'll bring them down yet!"


The ZAKU went flailing back towards Gigafloat from a hard bazooka shell hit to the shield, and Elijah groaned as he struggled for control over his reeling mobile suit. Kaite's combat lessons were really not helping him out here against an entire fleet. The ZAKU slammed back down into the platform; Elijah struggled to put the ZAKU up on its feet, but his blood went cold as he looked up and saw a Windam sweeping down with its beam rifle trained on his cockpit

...and an instant later, something black and orange lunged out of nowhere and slammed headlong into the Windam. The Alliance mobile suit struggled for a moment, but two enormous fangs went smashing straight through its body, and then pulled back out and let the ruined machine topple into the ocean, leaving Elijah to stare in disbelief at Andrew Bartfeldt's custom BuCUE, standing tall against the attackers.

"Kisato?" Elijah sputtered. "I thought you weren't coming out here!"

"There's no need to put my number one fan in harm's way!" answered George Glenn's voice. Elijah blinked and looked back up where the yellow Civilian Astray was still doing battle with the Windams aboard its Guul and then back down at the BuCUE.

"Wait, how "

"Multiple receptors, silly!" George admonished. "Hey!"

Elijah snapped his attention over his shoulder, where another Windam was coming down just in time to see something slam into it and send it staggering into the sea, and the ReHOME's bright orange Works GINN stomped out of a warehouse with a linear rifle in hand.

"Why, at this rate I can control a whole army!" George laughed. "We'll see if I'm as great a general as I was an ace pilot! It'll be fun!"

Elijah painfully put the ZAKU back on its feet and looked back towards the enemy forces, still on the move and still undeterred by the wall of firepower Gigafloat's defenders had thrown into the air. A whole army might be what they'd need.

Lowe Gear ground his teeth in frustration as the Red Frame Kai's swords clashed with the Gale Strike's blades. The Alliance machine darted to the side with a blast from one of its massive thrusters and swung around, aiming for the Red Frame's waist; Lowe whipped around and parried the blow with one of his swords, then swung up the second to deflect another strike. The Gale Strike surged forward anyways, eyes flashing furiously; Lowe slammed on the thrusters and pounded the Red Frame's knee into the Gale Strike's torso to knock it back, but it stabbed upwards with both its blades to deflect his follow-up attack.

"Persistent little bastard, aren't ya!" Lowe snapped.

The Gale Strike responded with a charge that sent the Red Frame reeling, and Lowe desperately flung up his swords as the white and blue mobile suit commenced with a bone-jarring chain of relentless sword blows, driving the Red Frame back.

"Y'know, I'm all for a good fight now and then," Lowe growled as he blocked the Gale Strike's blows, "but this is just pissing me off!"

He slammed back the controls, sheathed the swords, and sent the Red Frame spiraling back towards Gigafloat. The Gale Strike followed but an instant later, Lowe whirled around with the Tactical Arms IIL in hand, transformed into its Arrow mode, and sent a pulsing yellow beam streaking towards the oncoming enemy. The Gale Strike rocketed out of harm's way just as the Red Frame Kai charged forward, its Tactical Arms converted to a massive claw, and swiped at the white and blue mobile suit. And as the Gale Strike struggled to regain control, the Red Frame lunged back up with the Tactical Arms back on its back in subflight mode, swords raised again, and brought them down with a crash onto the Gale Strike's upturned blades.

"I don't know why you guys insist on trying to destroy this thing!" He charged forward and started up his own bone-jarring string of sword blows, driving the Gale Strike back before him. "I don't know why you guys think the only way to use these machines is to destroy things!" The Gale Strike staggered back under the assault. "There's a better way than that!"

Undeterred, the Gale Strike flung itself backward to avoid the sweeping swords, then charged forward again, and the swordfight resumed.

"That's just no fair!" screamed Lily Thevalley as the Vent Savior Gundam spiraled away from its own blasts, deflected back at it by the Nix Providence Gundam's positron reflector. The Vent Savior whirled around, beam saber in hand instead of its rifle, and pitched forward only for the Nix Providence to ignite the saber at the end of its composite shield and slap the blade aside. Lily flung the silver Gundam down, back towards Gigafloat, as the Nix Providence opened fire with the DRAGOONs on its hips again.

The Vent Savior landed heavily on one knee and Lily glanced over to the left, where Trojan was still in the middle of a fierce swordfight with the nimble Nebula Blitz. She darted forward, rocketed back up into the air again as the Nix Providence came down from behind, then backflipped, and fired back with the plasma cannons. The Nix Providence ducked aside; Lily fired again, and this time the white Gundam shrugged the blasts off with its positron reflector and fired back.

"Trojan! How do I get through a positron reflector?" Lily cried.

Something on Trojan's end blew up before his face reappeared on the auxiliary screen. "Beam saber, remember?"

The Nix Providence charged forward again; Lily ducked between its beam blasts and swung her saber up towards the mobile suit's cockpit, only for a stab from the composite shield to deflect her blow.

"Oh yeah," she grumbled, "the hard way..."

Alec Ladd descended on the Windam before him with a scream and gutted it with the Proto Abyss's beam lance. The ruined mobile suit staggered from the sky; Alec flung his Gundam to the side and let loose a torrent of beam fire that sent a Windam squadron up above scrambling for distance. A squadron of BABIs took the opportunity to lance up from below and shower the Windams with beam fire, sending two of their number sailing into the sea in flames.

Alec took the chance to glance over his shoulder and check on the mission's status. The transports and their cargoes of refugees and Resistance equipment were still streaming west, towards the Kenyan coast. And in the meantime

"Commander Ladd!" someone's voice shouted. "Enemy breakthrough at sector H!"

"Already?!" He flung the Proto Abyss down towards the platform, where the Resistance's mobile suits were already backing away from an onslaught of artillery and mobile suits. "Jesus, don't they know how to fight?!"

With a crash, the Proto Abyss sent a torrent of beam fire down into the Alliance's ranks and forced them to break formation. The Windams scattered and four of their number vaulted into the air to attack the charging green Gundam. Alec warded them off with another beam volley and burst through their numbers, angling down towards the platform. The Proto Abyss landed hard in front of the charging Alliance troops and sent them reeling back with a third volley of beam fire.

"Aristotle! We need reinforcements, sector H!" Alec barked; one of the Windams swept in close, beam rifle blazing and pounding blasts against the Proto Abyss's shoulder shells. Alec ground his teeth, ducked down beneath the blasts, and then lunged back up to plant the beam lance's shimmering blade in the Windam's exposed back. And as it collapsed to the deck and exploded, the surviving Resistance mobile suits fanned out and opened fire.

Gigafloat shook again as the Alliance fleet pounded yet another volley of cannon fire into the deck, and Alec bit back a curse as the platform rattled. If these were the survivors of the Resistance's past battles, then perhaps they had only been lucky, and not so skilled.

Emily cringed as the Crusader Gundam's sword slammed down against her own. So this was why Shinn was having so much trouble with this guy lately.

The Crusader flung her forward with a swing of its sword and charged after her. Emily darted over its head, then to the side to avoid a beam cannon salvo from the Vanguard Gundam. And no sooner had she done that than the Artemis lunged out of nowhere, beam saber held high, and slammed it down against the Eclipse's beam sword. Emily kicked off hard from the Artemis's chest and ducked down again, just in time to avoid a sweeping horizontal sword slash from behind by the Crusader.

"I guess it wouldn't be a battle if I didn't have to fight a bunch of Gundams," she grumbled, and sent the Eclipse spiraling back down towards Gigafloat. The Vanguard let fly another wave of beam fire; Emily danced around it amid a flurry of afterimages and whipped her sword up to deflect a blow from the Crusader, then rocketed to the right to avoid a saber stab from the Artemis. The Crusader barreled past its ally and slammed the Eclipse backward with a heavy sword blow, and then leveled off its "Agni Kai" cannon for a finishing blast.

The Eclipse swatted the blast aside with its beam shield and then wove a blurry, shimmering path through the Vanguard's follow-up wave of firepower. Emily turned towards the light blue Gundam overhead; the Artemis lunged into her path and she threw her sword up to parry its lethal stab. The Crusader came in next from behind, sword upraised; Emily threw the Eclipse to the side, letting the Crusader pass by and catch nothing but air with its sword.

"But this time," she said, "it's going to go differently!"

The three Gundams arrayed themselves before her again, eyes glowing combatively, and Emily scowled back as they lit up their thrusters and charged.

Battleship Minerva

Frustration billowed up from Athrun Zala's heart as he frantically worked on the final touches of the Celestial Justice Gundam's operating system. Unfortunately, "final touches" included important parts without which the Gundam's response time and information systems would be unacceptably slow, and that would probably just get him killed.

But in practical terms, that meant he, and the other new Gundams with the same problem, couldn't be out in the battle.

It was all the more frustrating because while Athrun had always been adequate in working with computers, it had been Kira who had truly mastered them. Athrun could build the computer just fine, but Kira had always been the one who could program it, finding flaws and errors and bad code with preternatural precision and speed. He had singlehandedly completed the Strike Gundam's operating system in the middle of battle although it helped that Miguel had been something of an idiot about that and he'd written the M1 Astray's OS and the Strike's later Natural-friendly system almost from scratch.

And, naturally, that meant he was now an enemy and completely inaccessible for finishing this damned thing.

He wiped his brow and took a moment to take stock of everybody through his Newtype senses. Frustration seemed to be the common denominator, but as he passed over the silent Aurora Gundam and its cranky occupant, he felt it bubble up again inside himself and send him plunging back into work. He had something to return to, and damned if an incomplete OS was going to keep that from happening.

Earth Alliance battleship Charlemagne

Ivan Danilov clenched his fists around the armrests of the Charlemagne's captain's chair as his warship shook. Those missiles were punching through his ship's laminated armor, the smoke and impacts obscured his vision and distracted his men from their real mission, and they were starting to interfere with the weapons systems. At this point they would probably have to pull back, but first...

"Enemy submarine's MS squadrons have been forced back to Gigafloat," the sensor officer reported. "Another missile wave, sir."

Danilov frowned as the CIWS cut them out of the sky. "Gottfrieds, aim at the space just above the submarine and fire now!"

The Charlemagne's guns obligingly sent a volley of green beams lancing by over the Aristotle's hull, just as another missile salvo lifted off. The explosion shoved the Aristotle backwards and left the upper side of the hull a blackened, mangled mess. The massive submarine began to back up in the water, still launching missiles out of its remaining tubes, and the mobile suits descended down over the ship to cover its retreat.

Danilov sat back and rubbed the side of his head. "Vera. Damage report."

"Damage level B along the ventral side, six CIWS emplacements knocked out, and five hull breaches. One of them is very close to Levitator C."

Danilov held back a smile. Providence had intervened. "They'd blow us out of the sky like that," he grumbled, and keyed in a frequency on his intercom. "Admiral Krane, this is Captain Danilov. We've driven off that giant ZAFT submarine, but we've taken serious damage ourselves. We'll have to withdraw."

Krane scowled back. "You'll be throwing off our entire timetable."

"They've come very close to knocking out my levitator. One more hit and I'll lose altitude, and that'll be the end of our timetable anyway." Danilov shrugged. "Plus you would have to help defend my ship as we get the auxiliary units online."

"Very well," said Krane with a sigh, "just keep the barrage up to open lines in the enemy defense as you pull back. We're on the cusp of victory, captain."

Danilov looked back towards Gigafloat and beyond, to the small armada of ships and planes racing away, to the west, towards Africa. "Understood. Danilov, out."


The Blue Frame Second Revise backed away from its sub-wing riding foe and abandoned the shattered remnants of its shield. The bazooka that the Regen Duel carried was stronger than Gai had remembered.

The orange and white mobile suit feinted to the left, then darted to the right and showered the Blue Frame with beam and railgun fire. Gai threw the Blue Frame down below the blasts and opened fire with the Tactical Arms' Gatling gun; the bullets bounced harmlessly off the Phase Shift armor as the Regen Duel whirled around and fired back with its beam rifle. Gai switched his own beam rifle to the Blue Frame's left hand to draw a beam saber with the right just as the Regen Duel holstered its railgun and drew a saber of its own. The two mobile suits plunged together and their sabers clashed in a blinding display of sparks.

With a start, the Regen Duel charged forward and flung the Blue Frame back and then abruptly dropped down, flipped over, and rocketed away.

Gai blinked in surprise. "Retreating...? What...?"

Elijah's face suddenly appeared on the auxiliary screen. "Gai, the ReHOME is about to leave. Malchio's sending us out. It's time for us to go."

"He's giving up already?" Gai glanced down dubiously towards Gigafloat. "The battle isn't lost yet."

"He's insisting," Elijah answered, "and he wants us to get as far away as possible, as fast as possible. You've got to come back."

Gai opened his mouth to speak again but then something else occurred to him. "Is he...?"


"I...I see." The Blue Frame rocketed back down towards Gigafloat. "Very well. Get everyone aboard and we'll get going."

With a heavy crash, the DOM Trooper lurched back as the Nebula Blitz planted a lancer dart through its left arm and into a building over the DOM's shoulder. Trojan bit back a curse as he yanked on the arm and found himself stuck. The Nebula Blitz charged forward, beam saber lit up

"Not that easy!" Trojan roared, and jammed the controls to the side. The Nebula Blitz's saber tore through the DOM's left shoulder, ripping off the arm. He darted away only for the Nebula Blitz to whip around with its anchor open and slam it down onto the DOM's other arm. The red mobile suit yanked hard, pulling its green foe towards its waiting beam saber

And an instant later, a wave of beam fire came down around the Nebula Blitz and forced it to vault into the air, abandoning its prey. Trojan looked up in surprise as the Vent Savior slammed down next to him.

"Lily! What the "

"Look out!" she shouted, and shouldered the wounded DOM aside as the Nebula Blitz charged again. With a resounding crash she met it blow for blow with her saber.

Up above, the Nix Providence leveled off its hip-mounted DRAGOONs and showered the battlefield with beam fire. Trojan fired back with his beam rifle but the Nebula Blitz seized its opportunity to knock the Vent Savior aside and charge towards the DOM. Trojan brought his rifle around and opened fire, only to see the Nebula Blitz somersault over his blasts. It landed hard behind him, and before he knew what happened, two claws slammed onto the DOM's torso from either side and then the battery began running down.

"What the he's stealing my energy?!" Trojan yelped. The cockpit sparked menacingly and the screens darkened, and up ahead, the Nix Providence readied itself to fire again.

As the beams lanced forward, the Vent Savior flung itself into their path to protect the DOM's body. The silver Gundam shuddered as it lost its right arm, right leg, right wing, head, and the two long plasma cannons on its back but then it flung its shield away, seized the DOM with its remaining hand, tore it out of the Nebula Blitz's grip, and rocketed away with its remaining engines.

"L-Lily!" Trojan sputtered. "What was that?!"

"Malchio wants us to get back to the ship," Lily said breathlessly, "and if I let you die, then Emily would be sad."

Left behind, the Nebula Blitz raised its beam rifle but the Nix Providence drifted down in front of it and nodded off towards the battlefield, and the Nebula Blitz spared its retreating enemies one last glare before the two Gundams took off.

Battleship Minerva

"The civilians and Resistance personnel are evacuated," Malchio said sternly. "The soldiers are retreating. The mass driver is clear, but our window of opportunity is running short. It is time for you to go."

Meyrin sat in shock in the captain's chair. "Father, you can't seriously expect us to abandon you here!"

"You must "

"We won't! You don't have to do this!" She waved a hand at the crew. "We can take you with us! You can help us more when we reach space!"

Malchio's brow furrowed. "Captain Hawke," he said, with an edge in his voice that she had never heard before, "we do not have the luxury of time to discuss this further. I will say this once more. You have to go to space. Take up Lacus Clyne's mantle. Become a force for the human race's salvation. End this war before it consumes the world. I will send you to space, but I cannot do that if we spend so much time arguing that our window of opportunity closes. Now go, before the Alliance fleet damages the mass driver."

Meyrin pushed back a tear. "Father, they're going to kill you and take Gigafloat for themselves."

"No, they won't."

"How are you going to stop them?"

Malchio sat back. "That is not your concern. Promise me, Captain Hawke."

"Father "

"Promise me!"

His words rang through the silent bridge, and Meyrin finally swallowed the lump in her throat. "A-Alright," she said, "but "

"That is enough for me," Malchio said, and the screen went dark.


The Gundam Eclipse somersaulted over its adversaries and then ducked aside from a wave of beam fire. Emily glared up at her foes but the Crusader, Vanguard, and Artemis were rocketing away, and in their place were a quartet of charging white and blue Jet Striker Windams.

"Where are they going?" she mumbled, and then charged towards the Windams. The Alliance mobile suits broke ranks, but the Eclipse dove down into them anyway and sawed the first one in two with her beam sword. The second lunged up behind her, beam rifle leveled at her exposed back; she whipped around and slammed her left-hand claw clear through its cockpit, then hurled the rest of the machine towards the sea. The other two Windams opened fire; the Eclipse danced effortlessly through their blasts and then spiraled back up towards them. They both backed away, fear rippling out of the cockpits; Emily charged forward and slashed them both in two as they tried to evade.

"Emily!" Roxy's voice spoke up. "The hell are you still doing up there? Get back here, we're about to launch on the mass driver!"

Emily blinked. "The mass driver? We're evacuating?"

"Yeah, now hurry up!"

"But Malchio! Gigafloat! What about "

"Now is not the time for questions, Emily," Meyrin's voice interrupted and Emily almost heard the sound of tears behind her words. "Get back here. Now."

Emily stared down at Gigafloat desolately for a moment. Malchio was still down there; she could feel the tiny soothing pinpoint of his presence somewhere in the bowels of the platform. And they were leaving without him.

But he would want her to go. He would want her to find her destiny.

She swallowed her tears and rocketed back towards the Minerva.

"Protect the mass driver!" cried Alec Ladd as the Proto Abyss spiraled through a wave of beam fire from the oncoming Windams. Down below, the Resistance's last aerial mobile suits were being torn to shreds. A DINN dove up next to the Proto Abyss and its panicked pilot opened his mouth to say something only for a beam shot to blow him out of the sky. Alec turned towards the attackers and poured a wave of beam fire after them. Two of the Windams exploded, the others darted away.

"Commander, there's no one left," someone from the Aristotle spoke up. "It's time to go."

Alec glanced back at the battle, and the charging squadrons of Windams and then back down at the Minerva. "No," he said, "you go on ahead. I have to stay here and protect the mass driver until the Minerva can launch."

"What " the other man sputtered. "That's suicide!"

"No," Alec said, and his face lit up with a grin, "it's duty." The Proto Abyss's eyes flashed combatively. "See you on the other side!"

He switched off the line and charged. The Windams focused their fire, only for the Proto Abyss to painfully take it all against its shoulder shells. Alec plunged forward with a shout and slammed his lance through the first Windam's stomach, then ripped it in two and fired a wave of beam fire into the rest.

A bazooka shell slammed into the Proto Abyss from above. Alec grunted as the Proto Abyss rocked from the blow and the pause gave the other Windams all the chance they needed. The Proto Abyss shuddered painfully as the Windams focused their fire on it, and Alec moved the shoulder shells into position as the blasts blew away his mobile suit's extremities.

"Looks like we won't get that fight after all, Asuka," he said with a grin, even as the Proto Abyss spewed sparks and smoke.

The Windams charged in, beam rifles leveled but then the world shook as the mass driver fired and the Minerva began its ascent along the sloping track.

Alec charged forward with a roar and sent a wave of beams slicing through the Windams. A blast from the enemy slammed into the Proto Abyss's chest, the mobile suit sparked again, and Alec grinned as the Proto Abyss vanished in a plume of fire.

ZAFT submarine supercarrier Aristotle

The conn was silent as the line went dead from the Proto Abyss. Nathaniel Hatias closed his eyes. This battle had seen sacrifices enough and it wasn't done yet.

"C-Captain," one of the officers said, "we're...we're out of enemy range."

Nathaniel let out a breath and shoved down his emotions. Alec and the others could be grieved later. The sacrificing was not yet done, but with the Aristotle brimming with refugees and equipment, and with a convoy to protect and a destination to reach, there was work yet to be done to make sure that those sacrifices were not in vain. Alec had not died so that the Aristotle could be sunk here.

They had to go. He knew that. These refugees would need protection from what would surely be Alliance retaliation later. The Aristotle could provide that, and he himself could provide leadership to Gigafloat's dazed and demoralized surviving staff.

But the war had to go elsewhere. The Minerva would go there, and Alec had died to see to that. They would go to ZAFT and destroy the lunatics that had taken over the Coordinators' fury and turned it towards genocide. They would make everything right.

It was bittersweet, almost. These bedraggled Resistance fighters had spent three years in the mud and chaos of the Earth Sphere, and they had looked to their faith in the Minerva to somehow lift them from despair. Eventually they would be delivered from their suffering. And yet here he was, Nathaniel Hatias, former officer of ZAFT, left with only that faith to sustain him.

"Activate the silent drive," he ordered. "We are leaving."

Earth Alliance Spengler-class aircraft carrier David Farragut

Admiral Krane pointed furiously at the rattling mass driver and its steadily accelerating occupant. "I don't care what it takes!" he barks. "Stop them! Bomb the track!"

The fleet's guns boomed and the shells slammed down into the platform, but the mass driver roared and with a mighty blast of exhaust, the Minerva rocketed into the air and spread its wings.

Krane slammed a fist down onto the armrest. "Dammit!"

"Sir," the Farragut's captain spoke up, "the Perry is reporting in. Enemy action around Gigafloat has ceased." He gestured tentatively towards Gigafloat, framed by the setting sun amid the fiery sky. "We won."

The admiral took a moment to let out a sigh. "Yes," he said, "I suppose we did." He stood up. "Move the fleet forward to begin securing the platform. We've got quite a prize for Lord Djibril "

The admiral and the bridge went silent as the auxiliary screens flickered to life to reveal the pale-skinned blind man with a cane, standing in an empty control room. Krane frowned.

"Are you surrendering?" he asked.

The Reverend Malchio smiled. "I am doing no such thing, Admiral Krane," he said. "But first, I wish to congratulate you on your victory."

"Fine lot of nerve you've got," Krane sneered. "Consider yourself under arrest by the Earth Alliance for harboring Coordinators and Resistance forces. You've got a lot of evil to answer for, preacher."

Malchio did not so much as flinch. "Evil? I don't think you are the one best suited to accuse me of evil, admiral. The Earth Alliance has persecuted an entire people for their genes and oppressed the entire world. And you have served them loyally and enthusiastically. I am a man of God, admiral. I can't simply stand by and let such things happen without doing anything to interfere."

Krane scoffed. "My men are already on their way to take you down. You can't do anything now. Save your self-righteous speech for someone else."

Malchio raised his left hand and revealed the cylindrical detonator within it. Krane felt his blood freeze in his veins. "On the contrary, admiral," he said. "In my life I have been entrusted with things that I was told must not fall into the hands of those with evil intent." He smiled. "And while it breaks my heart to do this, I will have to answer for it to a far higher authority than you. But I believe that God will understand the steps I am taking."

The bridge was silent. Krane's jaw dropped as he remembered what else lurked inside Gigafloat's holds. He sprang forward. "All ships, destroy Gigafloat! Target the platform! Kill him! Kill him!"

Malchio raised the detonator high. "I should like to leave you with a quote, gentlemen. A quote for those who would oppress and persecute to keep in mind, no matter where they may do their evil in our war-torn world."

The fleet's guns boomed again, the missiles rained down, explosions ripped across the surface of Gigafloat but only a brief burst of static ripped across Malchio's image.

"Find him!" Krane shrieked.

"'Even as I have seen,'" said Malchio, "'they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.'"

"Land the troops!" Krane screamed. "Target the core! Target everything! Now!"

"'By the blast of God they perish,'" Malchio's voice rang out.

Krane looked up in horror as Malchio held the detonator high.

"'And by the breath of His nostrils are they consumed.'"

Malchio pressed the button, and the world went white.

Battleship Minerva

The bridge of the Minerva was silent as the mushroom cloud bubbled up beneath them, far below. The shockwave followed, but it was almost unnoticeable at this altitude, with the ship moving at escape velocity and the engines running at full burn.

But the shockwave still echoed inside Meyrin Hawke's head and rattled her soul. She bowed her head and made no attempt to hide her tears.

And the Minerva soared into space.

To be continued...